Glenn McQuaid’s black comedy horror film “I Sell the Dead” and the latest from the Broken Lizard clan are among the 29 films from first time filmmakers in both narrative and docu categories that have been announced for the 15th edition of the Slamdance. I’ve never really cared for the film fest, only because it simultaneously takes place during the Sundance film fest, but what I find really appealing this year is if you are a buyer looking to cut expenses this year you can download the entire fringe film fest from www.indieroad.net/slamdance. With the exclusion of the short film selections, the festival’s four programming sections (Narrative Features, Documentaries, Special Screenings and Twilight Screenings) is listed below.
NARRATIVE FEATURE COMPETITION
Max Perrier (Director), Danek S. Kaus, James Chancellor & Simon Perrier (Writers)
West Coast Premiere, Black Comedy/Thriller, 2006, CANADA, 82 minutes
An innocent man becomes the killer everyone wants him to be when he gambles with his freedom in order to save it.
A Quiet Little Marriage
Mo Perkins (Director/Writer)
Utah Premiere, Drama, 2008, USA, 83 minutes. Cast: Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Cy Carter, Jimmi Simpson.
A loving young couple square off against each other in a covert, domestic battleground of their own making.
Steve M. Kelly (Director), Simon Fantauzzo (Writer)
World Premiere, Drama, 2008, UK, 96 minutes. Cast: Susan Lynch, Kenny Doughty, Tamer Hassan.
A modern day Dickensian tale of eight haunted people who meet and fall apart while searching for redemption in each other. The director of City Rats, Steve M. Kelly, is a huge TV director in the UK (although this is his first feature film). He directed the majority of The Doctors, and also multiple episodes of The Bill, Casualty and Judge John Deed.
I Sell the Dead (Opening Night Film)
Glenn McQuaid (Director/Writer)
US Premiere, Horror/Black Comedy, 2008, USA, 85 minutes. Cast: Dominic Monaghan, Ron Perlman, Angus Scrimm, Larry Fessenden. Set in the late 1800’s, a duo of bumbling graverobbers begin to unearth peculiar corpses.
Tina Mabry (Director/Writer)
World Premiere, Drama, 2009, USA, 120 minutes. Cast: DB Woodside, Malcolm David Kelly, Malcolm Goodwin, Tessa Thompson, Michael Hyatt. Three poor Black kids in rural Mississippi reap the consequences of their family’s cycle of abuse, addiction, and violence. Mississippi Damned won a Kodak Film Grant through FIND. Director Tina Mabry came up through FIND’s Director’s Lab and producer Morgan Stiff was part of their Producer’s Lab.
Ingrid Veninger & Simon Reynolds (Directors/Writers)
US Premiere, Coming of Age Drama, 2008, CANADA, 74 minutes
One day shared between a young boy and girl, whose story unfolds as a luminous and lyrical study of pre-teen ennui and loneliness.
Punching the Clown
Gregori Viens (Director), Henry Phillips & Gregori Viens (Writers)
World Premiere, Comedy, 2008, USA, 90 minutes. Cast: Henry Phillips
A satirical songwriter comes to LA and puts his life’s work in jeopardy.
Son of the Sunshine
Ryan Ward (Director/Writer)
World Premiere, Drama, 2008, CANADA, 95 minutes. Cast: Ryan Ward
After an experimental surgery seems to curb the symptoms of his Tourette’s Syndrome, a young man (played by writer/director Ryan Ward) must confront the complexities of his life head on.
Drake Doremus (Director), Lindsay Stidham (Writer)
World Premiere, Comedy, 2008, USA, 83 minutes. Cast: Matthew Lillard, Nora Zehetner, Shea Whigham, Christopher MacDonald. Facing eviction from his parent’s home on his 30th birthday, a thoroughly average guy meets the girl of his dreams and creates his own rules for growing up.
You Might As Well Live
Simon Ennis (Director), Simon Ennis & Josh Peace (Writers)
World Premiere, Comedy, 2008, CANADA, 82 minutes. Cast: Michael Madsen, Stephen McHattie, Joshua Peace. Roert R. Mutt, town loser, sets out to attain the three keys to success – money, a girl, and a championship ring.
At Any Second
Jan Fehse (Director), Jan Fehse & Christian Lyra (Writers)
International Premiere, Drama, 2008, GERMANY, 99 minutes. Cast: Sebastian Koch, Mina Tander, Wotan Wilke Mohring. A handful of relationship-scarred individuals zigzag to a new beginning, but the danger of skidding off track is greatest in the home stretch. At Any Second star Sebastian Koch also starred in the Academy Award (Best Foreign Language Film 2007) winning The Lives of Others.
Nancy Kissam (Director/Writer)
World Premiere, Drama, 2008, USA, 88 minutes. Cast: Laura Harring, Jill Marie Jones, Oded Fehr.
An abused wife’s plan to escape her husband goes awry when she accidentally kills him, causing her to split on a cross-country drive with her best friend and his corpse in tow. Drool is written and directed by Nancy Kissam, who won the 2007 Slamdance Screenplay Competition with this script, produced by Upload Films. Upload Films also presented an award to the 2008 winning script, Numbered, and has just signed an option deal on it.
Julie Davis (Director/Writer)
World Premiere, Comedy, 2008, USA, 104 minutes. Cast: Leelee Sobieski, Matthew Davis, Denise Richards, Kristen Johnson, Jamie Kennedy. A cutting edge romantic comedy that explores the adult film industry through the eyes of an idealistic 25 year-old award winning film school grad. Finding Bliss writer/director Julie Davis started her career with I Love You, Don’t Touch Me, which debuted at Sundance in 1997.
Dror Soref (Director), Dror Soref & Tomas Romero (Writers)
World Premiere, Thriller, 2009, USA, 91 minutes. Cast: Simon Baker, Paz Vega
In a Tex-Mex border town, a man and his wife must face their tortured pasts in order to save their kidnapped daughter.
Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Undead
Jordan Galland (Director/Writer)
World Premiere, Comedy, 2008, USA, 89 minutes. Cast: Jake Hoffman, Devon Aoki, John Ventimiglia, Jeremy Sisto, Ralph Macchio. Music: Sean Lennon. A theatre director takes a job directing a play that uncovers a two thousand year conspiracy involving vampires, Shakespeare, and the holy grail. Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Undead is produced by Slamdance alumni Mike Landry (Frost), and the score was created by Sean Lennon.
The Slammin’ Salmon
Kevin Heffernan (Director), Broken Lizard (Writers)
World Premiere, Comedy, 2008, USA, 92 minutes. Cast: Cobie Smulders, Michael Clarke Duncan, April Bowlby, Sendhil Ramamurthy, Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Paul Soter, Steve Lemme, Erik Stolhanske. The owner of a Miami restaurant indebted to the mob institutes a contest to see what waiter can earn the most money in one night. Broken Lizard (writing/producing team for The Slammin’ Salmon) began their careers at Sundance 1997 with Puddle Cruiser. After several studio outings, The Slammin’ Salmon is the first film that Broken Lizard has produced independently since their success with Super Troopers and was shot while facing the WGA strike, as they wanted to get a film made but knew the studios would be tied up with red tape.
Blayne Weaver (Director/Writer)
World Premiere, Comedy, 2008, USA, 90 minutes. Cast: Tricia O’Kelley, Mark Harmon, Jane Lynch, Kaitlin Olson, Jon Cryer, Patrick J. Adams, Ryan Devlin. A Seattle weather girl freaks out on-air over her cheating boyfriend, the morning show anchor, and moves in with her little brother.
Clint Hutchison (Director), David Yarbrough & Clint Hutchison (Writers)
Utah Premiere, Thriller, 2008, USA, 88 minutes. Cast: Andrew Bowen, Maxine Bahns, John Schneider.
A grieving young couple relocates to a rural farm, and encounters disturbing occurrences surrounding an old cabin with a dark history.
Mum and Dad
Steven Shiel (Director/Writer)
North American Premiere, Horror, 2008, UK, 86 minutes
A murderous and perverse family imprison a young woman in their suburban house of horrors where she discovers she has to become part of the family—and join them in their insanity—or die.
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE COMPETITION
Graphic Sexual Horror
Barbara Bell & Anna Lorentzon (Directors/Writers)
World Premiere, 2009, USA, 85 minutes
A look behind the terrifying façade of insex.com, the most notorious of the ‘violent porn’ websites, while exploring the dark mind of its artistic creator and asking hard questions about personal responsibility.
Hard To Be An Indian
Beth Toni Kruvant (Director), Jonah Kruvant (Writer)
World Premiere, 2007, USA, 84 minutes
The trials and tribulations of an inner city school and the principal, Jewish alumni and gang members who return it to safety and restore its former glory.
Chris Billing (Director/Writer)
World Premiere, 2009, USA, 78 minutes
Filmmaker Chris Billing probes at his family history while investigating the tragic 1978 deaths of his adopted Crow Indian brothers.
Oh My God, It’s Harrod Blank
David Silverberg (Director/Writer)
World Premiere, 2008, USA, 75 minutes
A portrait of the eccentric art-car artist Harrod Blank, following him from his youth in the woods to his current multi-faceted career as creator and head of a nationwide art-car movement. With appearances by his father, filmmaker Les Blank.
The Road to Fallujah
Mark Manning (Director/Writer)
World Premiere, 2009, USA, 85 minutes
Exploring Mark Manning’s unique access as the only westerner to live with the people of Fallujah immediately following the November 2004 battle that destroyed their ancient and holy city, offering an in-depth and humanizing look at current issues in Iraq.
Alison McAlpine (Director/Writer)
US Premiere, 2008, SCOTLAND/CANADA, 51 minutes
A cinematic, non-fiction ghost story featuring the last generation of Gaelic storytellers on Scotland’s Isle of Skye.
Smile Til It Hurts
Lee Storey (Director/Writer)
North American Premiere, 2009, USA, 81 minutes
The amazing true story of Up With People, the singing group that represented an establishment-friendly alternative to the counter-culture.
Zachary Levy (Director/Writer)
World Premiere, 2008, USA, 113 minutes
A man strong enough to bend a penny with just his fingers, Stanless Steel reaches middle age, career disappointments and difficult personal relationships that begin to test his strengths and force him to struggle with the weaknesses around him—including his own.
Juan Jose Lozano (Director/Writer)
US Premiere, 2008, SWITZERLAND/FRANCE, 87 minutes
In the middle of Colombia’s humanitarian tragedy, a journalist fights to report and disclose the barbarity of the conflict.
Justin Johnson, Aaron Marshall, Erik Mauck (Directors/Writers)
Utah Premiere, 2008, USA, 91 minutes
An inside look at the two years that it took 12-year-old Emily Hagins to write and direct her feature-length zombie movie, Pathogen.